Anyone who hunts the elk rut in September will fall in love with listening to elk bugles. Getting a taste of the sound of an elk will hook you forever. You will dream of that sound the rest of your life. The sound of a bugle can be so captivating that we sometimes focus on the bugle more than the actual elk. However, the trick isn’t just hearing a bugle but understanding what the bugle means to that elk and other elk in the area. We as hunters can hear the sound easy enough, but many struggle comprehending the message. This is a key reason why so many general season, public land elk hunters eat their tag year after year. They are trying to learn to speak elk only during that short window when they are in the elk woods hunting. There’s a better way.
Thanks to tools like the ElkNut mobile app, a hunter can study the elk language year-round. And not only just learning to execute accurate elk sounds, but also by developing an understanding of what each elk sound means, which is critical to elk hunting success.
Indeed, as made clear on the ElkNut mobile app, there are many different sounds bull elk and cow elk make that are similar in sound but have very different meanings. Take for instance two bull sounds, the Location Bugle and the Round Up Bugle. The Location Bugle is a sound used by bulls to locate other elk. It is non-intimidating, high pitched, and lengthy relative to other bugles. You won’t hear a lot of grunts or growls with a location bugle. The Round Up Bugle, on the other hand, is not the growliest sound an elk can make either (think Lip Bawl Bugle or Challenge Bugle for that), but it’s a shorter sound than a Location Bugle and has more urgency implied in its tone. A bull is rounding up his cows and preparing to leave the area in light of a perceived threat. Think for a minute, then, that you hear a bugle. If you thought you heard a Location Bugle, and you formulate your plan accordingly (i.e., cut the distance and initiate some cow calls maybe), but what you actually heard was a Round Up Bugle, then your plan is not likely going to succeed.
There are similar variations in cow elk sounds. Think about this: social cow calf talk is conversational and used by elk to keep in touch while grazing and moving from feeding to bedding area. Pleading cow calf mews, on the other hand, are asking for attention from other elk. There’s a more demanding tone. A trained ear can tell the difference, but an inexperienced and unlearned elk hunter cannot. Hearing one sound, and thinking it is the other, could prove disastrous.
These two scenarios show why it’s so important to educate yourself on the various elk sounds and what they mean. You can do this the hard way, through years and years of trial and error (and the errors can be so painful!), which is how many have learned it, or you can expedite that learning curve by looking to tools like the ElkNut mobile app.
Elk have a language of their own. Speaking and understanding any language is something that takes time and effort. But if we’re thinking about and trying to learn the elk language only during that sometimes very limited window when you’re out in the elk woods hunting elk, then you are taking the slow route that will be filled with missed opportunities. Expedite your elk calling learning curve by downloading the ElkNut mobile app today.
There is a rising tide of new archery elk hunters. Once someone gets a taste of bugling bulls at close range, that pull to return year after year is so hard to resist. With this trend in mind, here are a few tips for the beginning archery elk hunter.
Get in Shape
If you are out of shape, your hunt ended before it even began. Chasing elk is is a physically challenging sport. Quite frankly, it can be exhausting; the ultimate test of endurance. Being out of shape can cause you to become unmotivated and unprepared for the hunt. In order to persevere, you need to prepare for what the battle is going to bring. Prepare well before hunting season begins and set realistic goals for what steps you need to take to get in hunting shape. Good activities include spending time on the mountain, hiking and scouting, going to the gym to exercise your legs and core, and doing some cardio, whether HIIT or endurance.
Have Confidence in Your Gear
First, your bow. Shoot it often. This will help you become comfortable and confident with the weapon you will use to harvest your elk. When pulling the trigger, you should have full confidence in the equipment you are using. Next most important in my mind is good boots. Remember that elk hunting is done on your feet in rugged terrain, day after day, so good boots will become your best friend when walking the backcountry. Blisters can make a fun hunt miserable instantly. Make sure to break your boots in before the hunting season begins or those expensive boots you bought will seem cheap. I have seen a lot of talented hunters that don’t have the nicest packs or camo, but they purchase good boots because they understand the importance.
Don’t Do Your Scouting During the Season
I’m sure this one seems simple but this happens more often than you think. Walking in the woods isn’t always what it takes to shoot an elk. A lot of hunters waste a lot of valuable hunting time scouting when they should have done that months earlier. Scouting is something that should be taken seriously. There are many steps to making sure you are successful and you are hunting where the elk are. First, it is important to understand what type of country elk like to spend their time in. This will require you to take time to study and find the best areas suitable for elk. After this it’s time to hit the hills and see if you can find the bull you are going to shoot. Trail cameras can help, but there is nothing that can compensate for a lack of time spent in the area you’re hunting in advance of the season.
Learn the Elk Calling Basics
When I started archery hunting a couple of years ago I wasn’t having much success. I had grown up hunting elk with a gun and I approached archery hunting the same way as I did rifle hunting. The thing I learned quickly: archery hunting and rifle hunting are not the same. Archery hunting requires you to get very close to the animal so you can make an effective and ethical shot. Learning how to use a mouth reed to call in elk will help you to get the close up shot you need. Using a reed isn’t always easy and it can take some time to get to know all the calls you can use while hunting. That’s why we partnered with Paul Medel, the ElkNut, to bring you the cutting edge in elk calling instruction, all on your mobile phone or smart device. Using the ElkNut app will teach you to “Talk the Talk” this hunting season, so you’re able to “Walk the Walk,” meaning end the season with a pack full of elk meat on your hike out.
There is a lot to take in as a new archery elk hunter, but there’s no reason not to get started now, as it’s one of the most rewarding endeavors you’ll ever pursue.
*This article was written by Ryan Smith, an avid archery elk hunter and co-founder of Got Game Technologies, LLC.*
Every experienced elk hunter has been confronted by a “hung up” bull. It often starts with a quick response to your bugle. The adrenaline starts pumping. You check the wind, make an educated guess about the bull’s location, then begin to cut the distance. You cow call occasionally, and he regularly responds, sounding interested. But as you begin to get close, and you can’t close the distance much more without blowing your cover, the bull “hangs up.” In other words, he just won’t close that final stretch and get within shooting range. Below are a few tips from the ElkNut App, featuring the elk calling expert, Paul Medel, that should help you get that “hung up” bull to come in to range.
Paint the Picture of a Hot Cow
Nothing gets a bull excited quite like a “hot” cow, meaning a cow in estrus. And you can bet a bull’s blood will start to boil if he not only perceives a hot cow, but also the presence of another bull elk with her!
Under this scenario once the bull has “hung up,” you should start raking a tree (or stomping the ground if no trees are close) and give two or three pants from the spot you cow called. Mix in a few whiny cow calls as you continue to rake (or stomp). If the bull bugles, cut him off with a challenge or lip bawl bugle. There’s a good chance the bull will become aggressive and start closing in. If the bull does not respond, wait for five minutes or so, arrow nocked and ready in case the bull decides to close the distance. If nothing still, repeat the above scenario and give it a full thirty minutes. Keep your ears and eyes open for the bull’s stealthy approach!
Do as a Bee Does: Buzz!
Another great call to implement when going after a hung up bull is the Contact Buzz. It’s a cow sound asking for another elk to come to her or to re-gather other elk. This sound can be a great tool to convince a hung up bull that what he’s hearing is another elk who is asking him to respond to her calls. In the event the bull tries to bugle you in from there, you can paint the above picture of a challenging bull moving in to intercept his cow. Be ready to see the real bull come in on a line!
The Team Approach
When you are hunting with a companion, you can also consider taking advantage of a “hung up” bull’s curiosity. If he fails to come in notwithstanding your calling, leave the shooter in the spot from which you were calling (with favorable wind and good cover), and have the other hunter retreat, cow calling away from the bull so he is under the impression the cow is moving away. The bull’s curiosity and senses will often lead him to venture over to the spot from which the calling initiated to check things out–right where the other hunter has been waiting!
These are just a few tactics that might help you reach that “hung up” bull. The calls and tactics referenced in this article (and many, many others) are all featured on the ElkNut App, which is available for download on the App Store and Google Play. The ElkNut App is designed to take your elk calling and hunting ability to the next level. It’s content has been proven in the field through years of experience. We encourage you to give it a go, join our e-mail list, and follow us on social media.